Martha Holmes paints directly in response to the moment. Absorbed in capturing the shifting light and changing seasons through her abstract sea and skyscapes. Adrian Mitchell sources wood from his local landscape to make his turned vessels. He harnesses the natural beauty that transforms the green material into organic sculptural shapes through time. Jack Doherty’s soda-fired porcelain forms connect people, pots and place inspired by archetypal functional vessels from history.
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Jack Doherty – Ceramic Artist
Memory Jars: the storage of past memories
From the idea that history, time and tradition can be a dynamic and changing force, I consider our need for clay objects and ask questions about their changing role in a contemporary world. I look at the ways people made things before art or craft. For me, the concept of function is ambiguous and multi-layered. I make soda-fired porcelain forms that contain the qualities of art and utensil. The Memory Jars I have made for this exhibition are containers for the storage of past memories. Objects have the ability to absorb and carry layers of experience embedded within the spaces of the forms and responsive materiality of clay.
Near the city of Phonsavan, in Northern Laos, is an area known as the Plain of Jars. Not strictly a plain, it is known as the most heavily carpet-bombed area in the world, peppered with live land mines. The landscape contains a large number of carved stone jars, made between 500BC and 200AD, some of them scarred and blasted by the American bombing in the Vietnam war. The purpose of the jars is mysterious, they were possibly cremation sites, but their story is still unknown.
The Jar form is one of the most ubiquitous in ceramic history, used for storage, keeping and preserving. In my childhood, growing up in Northern Ireland, we called the ceramic whisky bottles ‘stone jars’. They were a valuable commodity to a small child. If we were lucky enough to find one it could be traded in for cash.
Somehow, the sea, the sky and the land have infiltrated my work. My connection with the landscape is both visual and physical. My work looks back to pre-history and the archetypal vessels that served a vital role in daily life. Essential pots that once served a practical purpose and held a ritualistic place in both the everyday and the journey into the next world. As containers of emotion and connectors with the spiritual, I want my vessels to inhabit our spaces in light and shadow with nuances of colour and surface texture that neither painting or sculpture can.